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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, September 25, 2023

At town hall meeting, students voice concerns about Group of Five centers

Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon and Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Raymond Ou answer questions posed by a student in the Interfaith Center on March 27.

The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs (DOSA) held a town hall meeting yesterday evening to discuss the futures of the Group of Five (G5), which includes the Africana Center, Asian American Center, Latino Center, LGBT Center and Women's Center.

This meeting was prompted by an op-ed written by a group of students from the Asian American Center in response to the vacant or soon-to-be-vacant director positions at the Latino Center, Asian American Center and the Women’s Center, according to Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang, a senior who helped organize the event.

Currently, Tufts has no job listings for permanent director positions for any of the three centers. Postings are on LinkedIn for interim program administrator jobs at the Latino Center and Women's Center. The hiring process for these positions will most likely occur during the summer, which means that students will have less of an involvement with the process, Amieva-Wang said.

When asked about a concrete timeline for the hiring process, Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Raymond Ou explained that the job listings will be posted later this week, starting the official search to fill these positions permanently.

Ou said that the next steps in the process are to create a representative search committee and begin reaching out to potential applicants. 

“We want to make sure that the pool is robust and that the students are comfortable with any of the finalists that we bring forward,” he said. 

Ou said that the timeline of this process would be dependent on the people who apply for the position, so it is difficult for Ou and Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon to state a concrete timeline. However, McMahon said that she will publish a more detailed timeline of this search process online once the available jobs are posted and DOSA begins to receive applications.

During the summer, DOSA will conduct an outside review of the G5 at Tufts, which McMahon explained is projected to cost $2,000 to $3,000. This review will be conducted over the summer without the input of students.

By conducting a review externally, Tufts will be able to compare the centers here with models of what other universities have done and what has worked, according to McMahon.

“Some fresh eyes and fresh perspectives can really help us,” McMahon said.

McMahon said she decided not to include students in the review process as she did not want to burden students with the duties associated with the review.

Pat Mahaney, a student who moderated the discussion, explained this decision.

“I picture support from the university as emboldening student voices rather than relying on student voices to bring out problems,” Mahaney, a junior, said in response to McMahon.

One of the main goals of this event was to include all of the centers in the conversation about their futures and give students a chance to speak openly about their concerns, according to Amieva-Wang. In response to a request in the op-ed, the students were given a time for the town hall meeting after spring break.

Amieva-Wang said it was important to have this meeting so soon, even though the process was rushed.

“The semester is ending, and the further you get, the harder it is to have full conversations,” Amieva-Wang said.

Students worked to organize and publicize this meeting while also making an effort to include voices from each of the centers, according to Amieva-Wang. She said that misinformation passed around prior to the town hall and a lack of official, accurate information about this meeting were two major problems.

“We had asked the deans to disseminate information about this meeting, and they published information in the newsletter, but we had told them beforehand that we needed support that we did not feel that we got,” Amieva-Wang said.

A group of students created a Facebook event and held a preparation meeting as a way to spread information, relying on their own personal connections, Amieva-Wang said.

Although this meeting was rushed, both McMahon and Ou offered to meet again in the future to continue to discuss these issues. In the op-ed, the students asked for the presence of Dean of Arts and Sciences James Glaser and Dean of the School of Engineering Jianmin Qu at the meeting; however, neither of them attended the town hall.

“It is kind of frustrating to come to meetings and be told that the people who are in the room can’t answer the questions that you ask,” Amieva-Wang said.